- Pelican Builders Breaks Ground on NYC Walkup-Esque River Oaks Condo Project The Revere [CoStar Group; previously on Swamplot]
- Land Tejas Hosts Grand Opening of Texas’ First Crystal Lagoon with Michael Phelps [HBJ ($); previously on Swamplot]
- Report: Lake Woodlands Market in The Woodlands One of the Most Expensive Housing Markets for Lakeside Homes [HBJ]
- Orangetheory Fitness Has 5 Houston-Area Locations on the Way This Year Plus Another 20 Planned over the Next 5 Years [HBJ ($)]
- Houston Hotel Industry’s Post-Harvey Boost Has Slowed [Bisnow]
- Houston’s Multi-Billion-Dollar Bet to Survive the Next Harvey [CityLab]
- Housing Market in Uneven Recovery One Year After Harvey [Houston Chronicle ($)]
- The Flood Bond Is Not Enough [The Urban Edge]
Photo of Rice Box: Marc Longoria via Swamplot Flickr Pool
Re: The Flood Bond Is Not Enough
I found this excerpt to be the kernel of truth – without fixing the development practices that led to increased flooding, this money is just a band-aid. A big band-aid but still.
[Start excerpt] The flood bond would go a long way toward implementing engineering solutions, many of which were on the drawing table before Harvey, but, Fulton insisted, they must be coupled with strategies that look to slow the flow of water, rather than channel it quickly to and through the bayous. Furthermore, new regulations should also be put to work to undo the development practices that have worsened and shaped the region’s flooding in many ways. [end excerpt]
some other houston articles i saw yesterday:
I really like Pelican’s Revere building, and am all for midrise housing density, but find the broker-speak on these kinds of projects hilarious. “The project…is designed to look like a New York City walkup neighborhood”. Haha, what kind of sentence is that?? Not only is it factually inaccurate (the project is neither a walkup nor a neighborhood), it completely sells the project short. The project is a 9-story luxury ELEVATOR building, which in NYC (or anywhere, including Houston) is superior in every way to a true multi-unit “walkup” which is typically a 3-4 story building with NO elevator. Hence, you have to WALK UP.
I for one will vote against the bond for the very reason that Chili lays out. Why throw more money at a problem that they are not even trying to solve ( a true band-aid). Many people have done root cause analysis studies and it all comes back to allowing development practices to build build build. There is a good reason why Htown is called the concrete jungle. Many master planned communities were built in flood plains that were designed to handle the runoff and slow down large amounts of water. The fact that they were allowed shows how the politicians and builders line each others pockets. I do not want to approve this bond and simply let the root of the evil continue to fester. I might as well be shredding my money. If you want further proof of “a band-aid” fix look no further than down I-10 east in New Orleans. Yes, federal money came in and fixed a few levees and taxes paid for a new pumping station but even as of last year when Nola flooded it came to light that over HALF of the antiquated pumping stations were out of service. They fixed one problem and left others in disrepair.
Not to burst your bubbles, but the bond issue will easily pass ….. in the early voting (light by any standards) the highest turnouts by far have been in those areas most affected by the flooding while those who escaped the flooding have been abnormally light.
@ Where are the voters?
While the bond may indeed float by (see what I did there?) on light turnout, I can admire No to Flood Bond’s principled vote against it. It is okay in our beloved democracy to say “no” despite the majority.
That’s because the majority of voters vote out of fear and are incapable of seeing the larger picture when it comes to the long term results of any said issue. Any “flood bond” in Houston, even without wording, would get voter approval at this point. Uninformed, fearful and lazy voters are the reason we have corrupt politicians and issues that only end up being wasteful, short term solutions.
Don’t trust Ed Emmett after he ILLEGALLY ignored the VOTERS demand not to save the Astrodome (another money pit). The whole establishment cannot plan their way out of flood control. It’s the same old tired, non-workable “solutions”. It’ll be a total fail !!!
The flood bond comments here range in type from the usual anti-spending and anti-government rant to the more specific principle of allowing the perfect to be the enemy of the good. I also want there to be more stringent requirements on where and how new housing is built, but there have been significant improvements on just that front, and holding flood mitigation efforts hostage to an unreasonable standard of development is cutting off your nose to spite your face.
I hope that the polls are right and that this bond passes because everything in it needs to be done to combat our flooding problem and the effects of climate change.
That Texas Monthly flood control article introduces Houston as a city that has flooded since before there existed anything other than unspoiled riparian landscapes upstream of it — and then goes on to blame Houston’s flooding on development. No…there is a reason that Houston floods. The region is flat, covered mostly in clayey soils that are saturated and overwhelmed even by 7-year storms, it is prone to epic storms, and the tide line is slightly upstream of downtown. They’re right to say that simply channeling water more quickly toward the Gulf of Mexico is a hopeless endeavor (at least to cope with disasters the scale of Harvey, although these strategies can work perfectly well for the more frequent lesser storms), and they’d be right to blame pre-90s legacy development for not having stormwater detention (but not all development is bad and new development over the Katy Prairie actually enhances stormwater detention on net as compared to the natural state of things). Mistakes have absolutely been made in recent history. There is absolutely no good reason whatsoever that any development should have been permitted inside of the reservoirs; and yes, absolutely the procedures for managing water levels in Lake Houston and other reservoirs should be improved; but in the scheme of things, those are small fries. No mention is made of the role of subsidence on flooding in the Houston region or the multibillion dollar efforts to get it under control. No mention is made of the efficacy of flood control projects in the Brays, Sims, or White Oak Bayou watersheds specifically or of the investments made in ‘hardening’ the downtown and TMC districts to rising waters.
Targeted investment works! Civil engineers actually do know what they are doing, even if politics does quite often get in the way. New regulations do exist for this stuff, but new regulations do nothing to change the geometry of old legacy development; you cannot retroactively legislate the past. Just can’t. Houston’s geometry is not going to change just because in principle somebody rejects this bond issue on the principle that regulations should be tougher. To the extent that there exist problems, Houston needs money to solve it. No, I don’t expect that it’ll be allocated with perfect efficacy and equitability. There is no such thing as a perfect solution in this or any policy area. What needs to be asked is whether the bond issue is going to improve Houston on net or not, and if it does then vote ‘yes’.
Many master planned communities were built in flood plains that were designed to handle the runoff and slow down large amounts of water.
This is simply not true. There was development in areas that flood prior to the development of a flood map of Harris County in 1981. But modern developments built according to post-TSARP standards (2009+) experienced very little flooding.
The 2.3 million voters in Harris County apparently stayed home with only ~150,000 votes being cast (6.5% turnout). What bothers me most is the $500 Million in undesignated “contingency funds” that we won’t have any say in how they are spent.
“new development over the Katy Prairie actually enhances stormwater detention on net as compared to the natural state of things…”
So new development per se enhances stormwater detention? – or stormwater detention enhances stormwater detention? Interested to hear how the former works.
“Don’t trust Ed Emmett after he ILLEGALLY ignored the VOTERS demand not to save the Astrodome (another money pit)”
If it’s true that ignorance is bliss, that may account for your happiness. Bless your heart, the Astrodome bond that the voters turned down was only one specific proposal, and not a referendum on whether the ‘dome should be saved. Emmett was not deceptive nor were his actions illegal. He acted to protect the interests of Harris County’s taxpayers, regardless of the misinformation and outright lies that made his choice unpopular in some circles.